Ploughman’s hard work honoured

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A Palmerston farmer who has devoted more than 50 years to ploughing has become a patron of the national body.

Noel Sheat was given the honour at the recent national championships at Chertsey, acknowledging his service that includes 25 years on the New Zealand Ploughing Association.

He becomes its third patron, alongside Ian Jordan and Graeme Joyce.

Among his achievements are winning the title of national ploughing champion, representing New Zealand in Germany, Zimbabwe, Canada, and Ireland, and being the organising chairman when New Zealand hosted the world champs in 2010.

He and his wife, Thelma, have hosted the New Zealand championships on their 400ha mixed stock and cropping farm at Bushey, just north of Palmerston, three times – 1981, 2001, and the 60th anniversary event in 2015.

Each time it entailed planning his crop rotations years in advance so conditions were right on the allotted dates.

Forty hectares were set aside in 2015, as well as land on which the East Otago Vintage Machinery Club held a country fair where it ran trade displays, a vintage machinery auction, tractor trek, tractor pull, dog trials, dancing tractors, and demonstrations of vintage farm machinery and cars.

Mrs Sheat’s contribution throughout the years was also recognised at Chertsey with honorary life membership of the association.

A citation read by Nancy Allan to support the award acknowledged the hospitality the Sheats have always provided.

“Over the time that Noel has been involved with ploughing, Thelma has been the back-up support lady providing thousands of biscuits and baking for refreshment tents, goody bags as well as keeping Noel on track.

“She has stuffed thousands of newsletters into envelopes and that is a tiring task.”

Mr Sheat said he and his wife were “a bit of a team”, although Mrs Sheat quipped that she was “a bit ploughed out”.

Mr Sheat gave up competitive ploughing several years ago, but still ploughs his paddocks.

He is growing wheat, barley, and winter feed for cows grazing on the farm.

At the age of 79, he intends to keep farming in the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know what I would do if I wasn’t.”

There will still be the odd trip to ploughing events to lighten the load, though.